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|Evan Watson, NatureCity author & contributor|
Exciting research performed at Tufts University found that hibiscus tea may lower blood pressure for people at high risk of developing hypertension.
The findings of the study were published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
The researchers recruited 65 volunteers between 30 to 70 years of age for the study. All of the participants were pre-hypertensive, with a systolic blood pressure between 120-150mm/Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of 95 mm/Hg or less.
A blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 is considered normal for individuals over the age of 18. Systolic pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 are considered “borderline” high. People with blood pressure readings within these levels are considered to be at high risk for developing hypertension.
The researchers randomly assigned the participants to one of two groups. The first group drank three cups of hibiscus tea per day for 6 weeks and the second group drank a placebo beverage with artificial hibiscus flavoring and color.
Over the course of the study, the researchers measured the blood pressure of the volunteers once a week. At the end of 6 weeks, the group that drank hibiscus tea had a 7.2% drop in their systolic blood pressure and those who drank the placebo only had a 1.3% reduction.
There was also a larger drop among the participants with a blood pressure over 129; a 13.2% drop in systolic blood pressure and a 6.4% drop in diastolic blood pressure.
The researchers noted this effect on blood pressure may due to hibiscus’ ability to relax blood vessels. However, further research is planned to better understand the specific mechanisms behind hibiscus’ relation to cardiovascular health.
While the science behind the benefits of hibiscus tea is still in its infancy, the beverage has already shown potential for aiding in weight loss, lowering cholesterol and even helping with hot flashes.
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